The class I take on relational problems had a retreat. I was squirmy at the idea of spending 3 days with this class. Three hours a week is rough enough as it is. In the end I'm am so glad I went.
I went with my husband. Let me reword that.... I drove there with my husband. After about 15mins of being there I was barely aware of him. I had another woman from my class as my roommate, and all the other ladies were in rooms on each side of ours. We studied together, we worshiped together, we ate together. Best of all they all understood as good as any other human could. We were in it together, and yet we were all there on our own walks. I did see DH there. It was nice seeing him, but I wasn't worried about him the whole weekend. Which for me is huge. I spent so much time with God, I think it was the first time I could feel and accept His love. It's hard for me to put into words. In the middle of nowhere with God I felt free. I'm not sure I have ever felt that before.
The next day was like a crash. A retreat hangover if you will. I woke up fully overwhelmed with everything around me. I was just so sad. I think I sobbed most the day. And on and off the whole week. I just wanted to go back. (Felt a bit better to find out in class the next week, all the women had a hangover). Its normal for God to let tears start cleaning out hurts, even hurts you thought weren't hurts.
Early this week I thought I would scrapbook. I sat on the floor and opened the drawer stuffed with hundreds of photos. I ended up sitting there for nearly an hour. Its not like I have never looked through them before, but it was like really seeing them for the first time.
One of the first ones I happened to grab was of my daughters and me. We were at a concert. A friend and I brought six little girls to a Jonas Brothers concert. It wasn't some preplanned event on the calendar, planned it the week of. That was two weeks to the day of finding about the affair. My world had just been rocked. It was all good, I was making sure we had the time of their lives. After it was over, brought them home and the party continued well past 2am. Seriously? Who does that? Shouldn't I have been a puddle somewhere? Shouldn't I have been feeling pain? Sorrow? Anger? Panic? Anything??
Picture says I was having a blast. Its this mask. A happy grinning ear to ear mask. I feel safe when I'm smiling. Wow God, what the heck? Is this what you see? And that was just the first picture...
I grab another. I'm around 15 or 16. Sitting with a group of friends. We all smashed together, arms around each other, somewhere in the city. Smiling of course. That's all the picture tells, unless you know the whole story. Those kids are trashed outta their minds. So many drugs. I probably had a nice wade of cash in my pocket from selling all night. That night one of those friends got arrested. Found another friend with blood on her chin from chewing on her tongue all night, was she one of the kids I sold to? That mask was there, keeping me safe. When your smiling its all just a good time right? It was just a good time.
Another one out of the drawer. I'm with my best friend, around 17. Laughing sitting on the bed. I was living with her at that time. Her apartment had been raided by cops and her mom had been hauled off. I had nowhere to live at the moment, it was a perfect fit. She called me up and I moved in. We each had the others back. Who needs parents? When you laugh you can't feel abandoned.
Another picture. Same best friend. Standing with my husband. Arms around each other, grinning at the camera. I took this one a few years ago. It used to be one of my favorites. My two favorite people. Before I found out they had slept together... my stomach is starting to crawl. That picture gets flung back in the heap.
Another. I'm in the hospital holding my son. He is minutes old. I'm pale. Too skinny. Too sick. Don't remember any photos being taken since I was so out of it. Grinning of course. Sitting there looking at the picture, some sort of sick pride in me says "Look at that! Even half unconscious and still smiling!". Man I need help. But can't be scared, I was too happy.
Another. There I am with my BIL. He is holding my oldest daughter when she was smaller. Taken maybe year after he had molested me while I was passed out drunk. Just a happy family photo. Luckily you cant feel shame when you have your safety mask on
Another. My cousin and I. Drunk at some party. Happy as ever. Matching smiles. Matching attitudes. Matching masks. God shows me one reason I couldn't go up his casket when it was time to say goodbye, I didn't want to see him without his smile. I wish I had. Maybe I would have seen his real face. God, it was his mask that killed him wasn't it?
Another picture and another and another. Why have I never really seen these before? Why have I never really seen me before?
I'm amazed with my God. I was so surrounded by His love there, I felt safe telling Him things. I had to get away from everything to realize He surrounds me that much no matter where I am. I finally rested in Him. I told him I was scared. I told Him I was done running. I told him I wanted to put this mask away for good. I told Him I was ready to let go, but He needed to show me how. I know this might hurt, and it might not be quick. I told Him I would trust Him. Please take the parts of me that don't reflect you God. I gave my mask to him to keep.
Then I got home to the hangover. I worry that I was rash in telling Him these things. Like when you know you were drunk dialing the night before, what did I say, did I promise stuff?? What will I do without my mask God? Where did you put it? I might have changed my mind. Can I have it back? Just for awhile? I'm scared. I have worn it as far back as I can remember. I don't know who I will be without it.
He hasn't given it back. And truth be told I'm both terrified and excited all at once. I'm sure I will go hunting for it again, maybe even later today, who knows. Its hard to step out in faith. Its hard to hold someones hand you can't see. But I will. Even if on my bad days its to follow Him around to ask where He put my mask. He won't tell I'm sure, but maybe He will hug me and remind me, I wont need it where I'm headed.